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Book Review: Every Needful Thing: Essays on the Life of the Mind and the Heart, edited by Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye and Kate Holbrook

By Jessie Christensen

Published in 2023, the book Every Needful Thing: Essays on the Life of the Mind and the Heart is a collection of essays written by 22 different Latter-day Saint women from around the world. Each woman describes how her faith has guided her in her education and career. Reading this book felt like attending a testimony meeting and an academic mentoring session rolled into one, and left me wishing that I could sit down and share a meal with every one of these women to keep learning from them. Although I have completed my education and am well into my career path at this point in my life, I still learned something from every essay that helps me as a woman who is trying my best to follow God with both my heart and my mind.

Both the title of the book and each of its five sections draw on scriptures in section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants that describe a wide variety of subjects that the early members of the Church were counseled to learn about and to teach to one another. This expansive view of knowledge informs the book’s vision of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint woman. Latter-day Saint women are scientists, historians, medical doctors, professors, lawyers, judges, university presidents, musicians, and so much more. Each of these women has developed a strong relationship with her Heavenly Parents through the unique experiences she has had, and their varied voices join to create a tapestry of belief.

All the authors in this book echo the statement by Astrid Tuminez: “My education and professional pursuits have taught me to think more openly and embrace ambiguity while simultaneously grounding myself in a set of core principles that align with my conscience and life experiences…My faith has needed to become less brittle, less prideful, less bigoted, less insecure, and more curious, joyful, open, and alive.” At various points in my life, I have found myself leaning more towards the brittle and insecure side of faith and less towards the curious and joyful side. I have sometimes wrapped myself in the belief that my life choices and my beliefs are God’s true path for all his children, not just me. This book reminded me that the world is complex and full of variety and that God’s plan is for all His children to fill the measure of their creation and to use their gifts to serve others.

This book is not only perfect for any young person figuring out their life path, but for any member of the Church who wants to gain a broader view of how God works with His children today. My life is richer for having read it and I find myself returning frequently to its pages as I find my way as a daughter of Heavenly Parents.

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About Jessie Christensen

Jessie served a mission in Spain and graduated from BYU with bachelor's degrees in Spanish Translation and English, as well as a master's in Spanish Literature. She currently works full-time at a university library and nurtures her three children, one cat, and a fluctuating number of fish. She relaxes by reading, baking, canning fruit, and putting together jigsaw puzzles.

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